A Dress Made With Dung Beetle Shells?!

2012-20 STY Snow White Illustration Tunic P

Stewart's Snow White costume, first worn as a dress and later cut to become a tunic, with leggings and boots, for battle.

Director Rupert Sanders was looking to add a twist on the timeless story.

Forget the poisoned apple; bring on the bugs. "Rupert wanted a kind of rotting-insects thing going on in Ravenna's costumes," explains three-time Oscar-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood. Much of the insect imagery is but fleetingly perceptible; one purposely shredded gown was designed to cast an insect-head shadow on a castle wall. Atwood was thrilled in early production when she found shiny turquoise dung beetle shells at a flea market in Thailand. But for her crew, working with the razor-sharp shells was treacherous; each had to be drilled before being sewn onto the bodice of one of Ravenna's gowns.

Stewart's wardrobe is surprisingly simple, with only one costume -- a basic earth-toned frock, worn with leggings, that's slashed into a ragged tunic by the Huntsman's ax. For the final battle, Atwood added what look like makeshift bits of armor: "Kristen was really into it. It was empowering." Theron, on the other hand, is a cinematic fashion show. The actress was exquisitely tortured by a dozen elaborate corseted gowns, whose designs signal the queen's obsession with youth and power and her decay into depravity, from the skeletonlike shoulders on her knife-pleated wedding dress and an Alien-esque suit of armor to a gown of burnt, twisted leather Atwood dubbed the "porcupine dress" for its quilled collar.

"Ravenna was flawed," says Atwood. "Her curse was her beauty and her belief that you had to remain young and beautiful to be powerful."